May is a very beautiful month of the year with lots of flowers in bloom, the night vanishing in to late sunsets and early sunrises until they blend together, and all the vegetation is becoming lush green. But that is not what Im going to be talking about. Spring Love is a good term for the month here in Norway not necessarily romantic but very much happens in this month and can be pretty busy for people.
May is a time of the year you are likely to see the Norwegian traditional dress Bunads,
When a teenager turns around 15 or 16 years old they will have a confirmation of the faith.
Most norwegians are christened shortly after birth which in norwegian has the same word as baptised. “Dåp” so the teenagers at “Konfirmasjon” are ones that have been baptised or christened. Having become a big part of Norwegian culture and seeing as how times have changed this tradition that was from a religious ritual for the ones coming of age to confirm their faith as an adult and no longer having the faith based on their parents. Usually is part of a ceremony with a few other or many others from their peers where they take the metaphorical step together. After the ceremony the family has usually planned a celebration with family and relatives. As a gift friends and family often give a little bit of money and since it is so common many “Komfirmant” receive a big portion og money that they can use on any number of things or savings account. The ladies often inherit a Bunad the tradition dress which can cost in-between 15,000kr -50,000kr where as the guys usually dont since it is hard to know how they will be after their growth spurt. For this celebration-ceremony it is usually formal wear and an occasion others to also wear their bunads. This is something that will make a lot of norwegians busy in the weekends of this month since most will know someone that will be a Komfirmant.
Russetiden starts from the 1st of May until the constitution day the 17th of May, Though some aspects of the Russetiden starts before May. Such as the challenge Ispinne, “Ice pin” or Icicle where they swim before the 1st of May as well as another variation of the dare where they do it before the 1st of April.
The tradition started with a graduation cap for the graduates in their final semester of Highschool or Videregående skule in 1905 and inspired by german graduates visiting norway. Eventually other attire for the graduates were added, such as the popular russebukse. the pants, special sweaters, a whistle, the cap, are among the most popular of wear but fully pimping out the clothing is very popular and common nowadays with 2 or 3 big companies that will make anything from specialised converse, sweaters, glasses, t-shirts, small blingage, and anything almost else.Another essential nowadays is the cards that the “Russene” will get several hundreds of cards with a quote a few symbols and details about themselves, a photo of themselves which they deal out to friends, family, peers and even more popular kids they meet out an about that often collect the cards.
In this time the “Russ” will have lots of partying weekend getaways with many others russ, even gatherings of russ from all over the country. They also have many different challenges they are supposed to do in this time which gives them the right to put stickers for the different accomplishments on their pants. their pants is also something they are supposed to wear the whole time during the russetiden.
There is usually a small gathering of russ from a class or smaller groups where the russ will get “christened” and given a russ name, Mine was Tarzan =D (I can run all fours fast, climb well in trees, and swing from rope to rope, I grew up in the jungle in Ivory Coast, so not completely norwegian). This takes past in the end or middle of April and before may starts there is usually “Russetreff” in a south part of the norway where russ from all over will gather for festivities, gatherings and parties related to the russetiden.
This period is often thought of as a wonderful experience a time many look back on with fond memories whoever many are judgmental and are put off by how things have changed and presently are with the tradition as nowadays there is a lot of drunkeness, casual sex, partying and attitudes that in the wrong context or understanding. As many new cultures are becoming part of Norway can lead to confused foreigners. As part of norwegian culture I feel I should share it though it is hard to explain properly and I dont want to tarnish the view as when different cultures join together there can be misunderstandings, Im hoping that will not be the case, and think of it more of a lighthearted fun time for these soon to be graduates.
Most turn 18 before becoming a russ and therefore can acquire a driving licence as well as reached the age they can purchase their own alcohol. But Norway having a zero tolerance for driving with alcohol keeps russ getting designated drivers.
Most will form groups and get a car or van which will be painted red have their names written on it and then a name or logo for the name of their group. which will be used for road trips, adventures, partying, and just hanging out for their group.
Most of the Russ you will see will be Rødruss, ei, Red Russ, however there are other colors
Red, Blue, Black, Green, White, and Pink
All signifying a special study direction or choice. and should choose the color to your study where some will just take red anyway as they dont want to be a minority in another color or a few that dont choose to be russ.
For more information as well as my source for some of the details check out
My last topic for this article is the 17th of May.
The national day, and one of the coolest days as far as norwegian culture in my mind.
One thing many foreigners from tropical or “warm” countries find difficult in norway is greeting and getting to know new people as you usually need “a way in”.
Not in a mean way but in norway we dont usually greet strangers other than on New Years Eve and that night. When you are hiking and out in nature. When you ask a question for directions or instructions. And the 17th of May you can greet anyone.
Another key to knowing if it is acceptable to greet from my observations is if the sun is out you can greet but if it isn’t keep to yourself.
Now Ive covered greeting and I said the 17th of May you can greet everyone. People are in a good mood even if the weather isn’t good. the day is miserable and we had 10 minutes of sunshine and warmth we will probably only remember that part of the weather from that day the next years to come. People are excited to have summer junk food, be a part of a parade, wave the flag, wear their traditional dress the bunad or if they dont in regular formal dress. If the weather permits there will often be some old school style out door activities and games, contests.
Constitution Day signifies Norway starting to be a independent nation previously being under Denmark’s rule in order to avoid being ruled by Sweden even though our future kings were not of Norwegian dissent. The union with Sweden ended in 1905 when we got Prince Carl to be King of the independent Norway, but took the name Haakon VII.
In Oslo the Parade will go by the Royal Palace and get waves from the Royal Family as it goes by.
Ill Share with you the Photos from the my 17th of May in the town of Volda, a town with half of its population being students. a great place to see many variations of bunads as there are people from all over norway coming there to study.
First a group photo with all the different bunads in the beautiful western part of the country in a small town.
A few Games
Many will have a little flag and for the holiday those that have a flagpole will raise the flag in their yard as well. So you will se many flags.
Everyone in their finest clothes and the beautiful nature and flowers everyone the creative side comes out in fotoshoots from DSLRs to mobile phones.
Here are a selection of the bunads I photographed on the 17th of may. The Traditional Dress
The bunad from my area of Norway, "Sunnmøre" part of Møre og Romsdal county in Norway.
The ladies here have a blue and black version of the dress and many other parts of Norway have two versions at least for the ladies. The Mans suit is very nice as well but not as cool as the ladies I feel and here you see it.
It is quite normal for the those serving the the military to be in uniform for the holiday instead of the traditional suit or regular formal wear Which I find is a very nice occasion to see the different suits from the military.
Now for a few shots from from the parade part of the day =D
And here a few shots from the Russ which I previously talked about, as they traditionally part of the parade and here you can see different parts of the tradition.
Here you see the name of the car, as well as the names painted on the side.
A lot of russ will pimp out their ride with speakers, furniture to make for a great experience in the cars.
here you can see a group of them in the parade with various typical sweaters, some blowing the whistle and the different stickers on the pants signify the different challenges they took.
here you see that this fine lady had black pants instead and that shows everyone that she is a "Black Russ"
and a photo that shows how happy people are this day, and you can greet however on the streets and I loved the flower hats and was happy they were eager to have their photo taken in the moving parade =D
Thank you for reading and hope this was informative in a great way and you understand this month a bit better.